How Mikaela Shiffrin became the best skier in the world (2023)

"You want me to say something I can't. I make no guarantees and I'm not going to start now just so you can bet on me. I have no idea how I'm going to feel on race day. All I know is now I'm happy, skiing fast and having fun.

An hour before descending a mountain in Flachau, Austria, in early January, 22-year-old American skier Mikaela Shiffrin wrote these words on her cell phone. It was a text to herself, a way of coping with the potentially overwhelming expectations of being the world's most dominant skier and a favorite to win multiple gold medals in 2018.winter olympics, which opens on February 9PyeongChang, South Korea. The lyrics help Shiffrin focus on the present instead of worrying about the future and allow her incredible talent to avoid her sometimes paralyzing anxiety.

It worked in Austria. Shiffrin fell behind after her first race, but she rallied in her second to win the event and become the first woman or man in two decades to win five consecutive World Cup races. "I can also tell you," she wrote in the same message, "I am capable of handling almost anything that comes my way."

Much depends on these text message prophecies. Before her second Olympics, Shiffrin has the potential to be among the greatest female skiers of all time. She is the second rider in history to have 41 World Cup victories before her 23rd birthday. In PyeongChang, she broke the record for most alpine skiing gold medals won at a single Olympics (three by Croatia's Jana Kostelic in 2002). Shiffrin is a heavy favorite to defend her slalom gold she won at the 2014 games and a strong bid for the giant slalom, a faster run with less frequent turns. She's dominant in those technical disciplines, but Shiffrin is also likely to compete in two sprint events, the downhill and super G, and the medley (a mix of slalom and downhill), possibly racing the veteran.American star Lindsey Vonnto the podium.

"Mikaela is the best I've ever seen, male or female, in a few different categories," says six-time Olympic gold medalist Bode Miller, who will be part of NBC's PyeongChang ski coverage. Finding Shiffrin's technical ability and risk management second to none, he can't decide if her physical ability compares more to that of LeBron James or Michael Jordan, as she makes dominance look easy. "She can do whatever she wants," says Miller.

PyeongChang will be Shiffrin's biggest stage yet. With no NHL players or a popular women's figure skating team, the photogenic Coloradon will be one of Team USA's brightest stars. And with ski races spanning the two weeks of the Games, one of the stories Most important will be Shiffrin's quest for up to five medals.

That kind of pressure could have crushed Shiffrin not long ago. In 2016, a sudden anxiety attack left her ill, crying and questioning her commitment to skiing, even though she continued to win races. "Last season I thought, 'Oh, gosh, what if I don't measure up to what the face of the Olympics is supposed to do?'" he told TIME during a conversation at the modest home he shares with his parents, Avon. cabbage. Now, after working hard on her mind and body, Shiffrin insists that she's ready to carry the weight. "Olympic man or not, I'm the same person," she says. "It's a good mental place."

Shiffrin was around 2 years old when her parents put her on skis. Her talent showed from the beginning. Jeff Shiffrin, an anesthetist, remembers walking with Mikaela when she was 7 years old and noticing that she was moving quickly. "I look back to see if she's in sight and she's behind me," he says. "She says, 'Go faster.'"

(Video) American Mikaela Shiffrin makes history as most successful female World Cup skier

How Mikaela Shiffrin became the best skier in the world (1)

Shiffrin during his 17th slalom world champion race; She's chasing five Olympic medals

Fake images of Alexander Hassenstein

Eileen Shiffrin, a former intensive care nurse, provided Mikaela and her 25-year-old older brother Taylor with regular technical training and embraced all kinds of training methods. She once bought unicycles for the children, claiming that the coordination required to ride them would help their skiing and soccer skills. "She thinks she's completely normal," Mikaela says, as her mother stands by and laughs. "No. People don't do that, Mom. I get on the unicycle and people are like, 'This is amazing.' We were a really weird family.

Shiffrin became interested in the mental aspects of the sport from an early age. He read books like The Inner Game of Tennis, the 1972 essential guide to quieting the mind for peak performance. "She was paying attention when she was nine years old," says John Cole, director of human performance at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Club, "before anyone knew what she was."

Shiffrin was also ahead of the sleep curve. Ever since he misplayed a high school football game after staying up late reading horror stories at a sleepover, Shiffrin has been militant enough to get enough sleep. She is famous at the World Cup for taking naps on command at lifts and ski resorts.

The Shiffrins sent Mikaela to high school at Burke Mountain Academy, a Vermont ski touring school for aspiring ski racers. Even among her fellow athletes, she was unflinching in her dedication to training, often forgoing parties and gatherings. Recalling her first dance in high school, Shiffrin said: "It was all exhausting. I was like, 'Um, I don't want to do this.'

(Video) Mikaela Shiffrin Trains to be The Best All Around Skier | In Search of Speed

"She didn't participate in all the activities to protect herself," says Shiffrin's best friend, Bug Pech, a classmate at Burke. Pech remembers going on a date in the team van when Shiffrin started singing the words to the cheeky song "The Bad Touch", not realizing how vulgar she was. "The fact that little Mikaela sat there and sang all the words was hilarious," says Pech. “Certain connotations passed through her mind. The coaches turned around and said, 'Wait, what?'”

Shiffrin joined the World Cup Tour in 2011 at the age of 16, and Eileen insisted on traveling with her as her head coach and partner. The events are mainly held in Europe and most of the riders are in their 20s and 30s. "There's a big party scene," Shiffrin says. "I needed someone to protect me."

Eileen remained constantly by her daughter's side, an arrangement that at times led to tension with US ski authorities and much insult from competing skiers. But good luck arguing with the results. Shiffrin became the youngest slalom Olympic gold medalist at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games and has won four world slalom championships. He won the world full title a year ago and is at the top of the ranking this season. "Anyone who says that Eileen isn't the main coach and motivator," says her husband, "is smoking weed."

Still, the dynamics can be tricky. "When she talks to me as my coach and I listen to her as her daughter, that's one of the most painful and heartbreaking things," says Shiffrin. "Those conversations can be horrible." It took years for the star student to fully appreciate the difference between the two roles. "Just because she can be tough on me on the slopes, which I ask because she just makes her better and better, doesn't mean she doesn't love me as a mom," Shiffrin says. "I'm starting to understand that. And it's amazing

However, Eileen couldn't save Shiffrin from herself a year ago during the season that threatened to ruin her career. Before the first slalom race of the year in November 2016 in Levi, Finland, bad weather prevented her from training as much as she wanted. Instead of the typical pre-race butterflies in her stomach, Shiffrin felt as if she had a rope tied around her neck. Just before her second run, she vomited, then wiped her eyes, removed her glasses, and somehow won the race.

Bad weather again delayed his training before the next races at Killington, Vermont, and Shiffrin's stomach began to turn again. On the day of her slalom race, Eileen and Mike Day, one of her coaches, were discussing race strategy on a chairlift when Shiffrin began to vomit.

Once again he managed to rally and win, but it was clear he was beginning to crack under the pressure. "There will be more of everything," she wrote to herself in a tortured note while working before a competition in December in Sestriere, Italy. "More sweat. More fluorescent-lit hallways where I keep dreaming of coming out of the closet having accomplished my goals and looking like I know what I'm doing with no end in sight beyond the faintest glow of the fire to remind me to believe I deserve have faith. in my dreams. dreams. I will have good days as long as I am willing to have the bad."

The next day, away from the television cameras, Shiffrin vomited up his coffee minutes before the start of a slalom race.

Shiffrin's team realized they needed help. They cut back on their racing schedule, and critically, Shiffrin began talking with Lauren Loberg, a sports psychologist and family friend who also works in the NFL's Office of Player Engagement.

During the first Skype session, Loberg noted that Shiffrin was exhausted; She gasped as she described vomiting from her before the race. "Everything blew my mind today," she wrote to Loberg in January after a training session. "I tried really hard, but I couldn't do the things I wanted to do."

(Video) History-Making Ski Racer Mikaela Shiffrin Teaches Jimmy to Shuffle Dance

Loberg encouraged Shiffrin to stop talking about the attempt. "When you think about it," Loberg says, "trying is the opposite of relaxing."

How Mikaela Shiffrin became the best skier in the world (2)

Shiffrin was on the podium at the World Cup giant slalom race in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on January 6.

Christophe Pallot – Agentur Zoom/Getty Images

It was a simple message, but it gave Shiffrin permission to focus on each moment as it arrived. His anxiety began to lessen and his eating began to lessen. En route to Shiffrin's final World Championship slalom race in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Shiffrin battled his hometown favorite Wendy Holdener for the title. It's your house, everyone thinks it's her day, Shiffrin thought at the front door, turning to Holdener in his mind. But it's not your day. it's my day Shiffrin won by a margin of 1.64 seconds, an eternity in alpine skiing. "It was amazing," she says. "I hit myself."

Shiffrin has also started to come out of his ski-focused cocoon. He has a boyfriend, the French Olympic skier Mathieu Faivre. She and she is willing to get involved in social issues. Shiffrin says she admires the NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest inequality. "If patriotism was as simple as a flag and stood for your anthem, you could consider every country as patriotic as America, right?" She said Shiffrin. "But they're not. It's about fighting for what you believe in. These athletes really show more patriotism than ever before. Still, Shiffrin says he would accept the usual invitation of Olympians to President Trump's White House, based on his positive experience in Washington after Sochi in 2014.

The demons of an athlete never really die, they are ambushed. Shiffrin's Olympic year got off to a rocky start, with a fifth-place finish in her first World Cup race in October. Two weeks later she lost in the slalom to Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, despite being considered the favorite to win. The doubt began to return. "I skied as hard as I could and still couldn't beat him," says Shiffrin. "I was suddenly questioning everything."

(Video) #CourchevelMèribel2023 - Daily Diary #3 | 2023 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships

Before his Killington races in late November, Shiffrin texted me that he wasn't exactly full of confidence. "Now I feel...insecure," he wrote, adding an emoji of an angry woman covering her face with her hand. "On the bright side, I haven't thrown up this year! Ha ha.

Shiffrin continued to work with Loberg, but this time the confidence boost came from an additional source: Eminem. The rapper's song "Guts Over Fear" struck a chord, and Shiffrin scribbled the words on 12 pages of notebook paper. "It started to make me think that instead of being scared, I would basically be upset," she says.

Shiffrin won the Killington slalom and had a historic tear. In December and early January, she won eight of nine World Cup races and scored her first downhill win, making her a threat in Vonn's strongest race. Not that Shiffrin's dominance in South Korea is guaranteed. Vonn is the all-time leader with 79 World Cup wins, and the 2010 Olympic champion is a much more decorated sprinter than Shiffrin and a downhill favorite. Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg and France's Tessa Worley are ahead of Shiffrin in the current giant slalom standings.

This time, however, Shiffrin is up for the challenge. "I have an opportunity to turn on the light at these Olympics," she says. Perspective will only help you in your quest (along with hearty helpings of Guts Over Fear: "I can rap word for word perfectly," Shiffrin boasts).

While driving through Italy in January, Shiffrin wrote another message to himself on his cell phone. "Treasure love, not triumph. Remember the moments, not the victories. Count the memories, not the medals."

It turns out that the words you write to yourself could be the key to rewriting the Olympic record book.

More TIME must-reads

  • What do we know about them so far?Deadly earthquakes in Turkey and Syria
  • Beyoncé Album Of The Year ScornedIt fits in with the Grammys' long history of neglecting black women.
  • AndUS shoots down suspected Chinese spy balloon
  • effective altruismIt has a toxic culture of sexual harassment and abuse.women say
  • InsideBolsonaro's Surreal New Life as a Florida Man- it's MAGA honey
  • Plans "Back to the Office"Spelling Problems for Working Moms
  • 8 ways to read more books- and why should you
  • Why notMore sexy movies?
  • AndLogan Paul's crypto empire collapsed

write toSean Gregory

(Video) Olympic Ski Champion Mikaela Shiffrin's New Home & All Her Gold Medals | At Home With Natalie |TODAY


1. Moving Right Along, Episode 3 | History, Pt. 1
(Mikaela Shiffrin)
2. Mikaela Shiffrin became the female athlete with the most race wins at the Alpine Ski World Cup.
3. 10 Years Ago: Mikaela Shiffrin's First World Cup Win (Åre 2012)
(Sam Seven)
4. Congratulations, Mikaela Shiffrin: Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Ski Racers at Crystal
(Crystal Mountain Resort)
5. Who is Mikaela Shiffrin | A Matter of Time
6. Mikaela Shiffrin has become the winningest woman alpine skier in history, taking her 83rd World Cup
(Sports card)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Foster Heidenreich CPA

Last Updated: 04/10/2023

Views: 6420

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (76 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Foster Heidenreich CPA

Birthday: 1995-01-14

Address: 55021 Usha Garden, North Larisa, DE 19209

Phone: +6812240846623

Job: Corporate Healthcare Strategist

Hobby: Singing, Listening to music, Rafting, LARPing, Gardening, Quilting, Rappelling

Introduction: My name is Foster Heidenreich CPA, I am a delightful, quaint, glorious, quaint, faithful, enchanting, fine person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.